The Education Sector Committee held a meeting on 27th May 2015 at KEPSA offices and elected Mutheu Kasanga as the Sector Committee Chair and Vincent Gaitho as the vice chair. The agenda of the meeting was to discuss progress of the Sector Committees engagement with government so far. Members also discussed issues to be tabled at the Speaker’s roundtable scheduled for June 5th 2015 and the Ministerial stakeholders Forum (MSF).
While members lauded the government for the positive intention for dialogue and engagement, they expressed concern at the slow pace of implementing interventions discussed as the MSF level. The High Level Working Group which was to draw cross sectoral membership from the Private Sector, Ministry of Education Science and Technology, National Treasury and Ministry of industrialization and Enterprise Development was yet to take off.
The recognition of informal schools by the ministry was also an issue with the sector expressing concern at the government’s pace in recognising the institution. While noting the importance of standard, the committee supported the existence of informal school since they were driven by demand.
Transition from primary to high school and high school to university was also discussed. Previously the private sector had proposed a plan that would incentivise private sector to create additional spaces that would increase secondary school transition from nine per cent to 20 per cent. At the same time the proposal ensured that all students including private schools students access secondary education.
The sector committee agreed to be more proactive in following up on agreed MSF proposals even as preparations for the next MSF started.
Separately, the sector committee also met with Lydia Wambui Murimi from the Global Partnership for Education, a multilateral partnership bringing together: 60 developing countries; donor governments; international organizations; the private sector; teachers; and civil society/NGO groups. Ms. Murimi was on a fact finding mission in Kenya, Ghana, Ethiopia, Vietnam and Bangladesh on public private dialogue in the education sector.
KEPSA members cited the gains in public private dialogue in the education sector pointing out the structured engagement with the three arms of government especially the MSF platform. They highlighted areas of co-operation between the public and the private sector emphasising the goodwill an intention for the government in engaging with the private sector.
They pointed out three key areas for public private dialogue in education as being ICT, transitioning and curriculum development, pointing out the opportunities present for cooperation between the two sectors. On ICT it was agreed that there was need for a monitoring and accountability framework for ICT initiatives so that a minimum essential threshold was set and met.
On transitioning, the private sector emphasised that there was a mutually beneficial solution where private sector could be incentivised to create additional spaces in secondary schools. Further, the official change of terminology from “Free Primary Education“ to “state Supported Education “ will have a positive effect in framing the debate on transition in the country .
Other concerns raised included the imposition of VAT taxes on books and other educational material in Kenya which raises the cost of accessing education. At the same time there were certain positive aspects that came out of the meeting, for example in terms of regional engagement, publishers were optimistic. Currently up to 90 per cent of local publishing in Rwanda and 70 per cent of local publishing in Uganda is done by Kenyan publishers signalling a positive growth in this aspect.
Additionally, the Sustainable Development goals framework places the role of private sector at the heart of its agenda. As such, the future of private sector in education provided a lot of opportunities to participate in the sector. This however comes with added responsibilities to the private sector over and above making profit to meaningfully contributing to development in the country.
It was also agreed that GPE would share their findings on Public Private Dialogue with Kenya. Ghana is modelling its engagement similarly to South Korea with active private sector participation in all the processes in the education sector.